Attorney Alan Dershowitz was taken aback on Sunday, or so he said, when several distinguished former members of Israel’s government and its security apparatus openly questioned how Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are handling the peace process on the one hand and the Iran threat on the other. They did so at a conference in Manhattan put together by the Israeli daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post.
When Israelis come to the United States, Dershowitz argued, they should all “speak in a united fashion” and present what he called “the consensus case,” by which he meant the official government line.
We wonder whether he would make the same plea if the official government line was one with which he disagreed, while the position of the critics adhered closer to his own opinions, but that is irrelevant here. What matters is that Dershowitz, and so many others living snugly and securely here, have the chutzpah to tell Israelis – especially these Israelis, who put their lives on the line for their country countless times and whose loyalty is unassailable – how they should think and how they should speak. (Dershowitz, for one, wrote the book on chutzpah, and so should know better.)
Increasingly in the last months, very high level and prominent present and former security personnel have openly questioned the degree of the threat posed by Iran and the nature of Israel’s response. Increasingly, too, these same people are questioning the approach taken by the Netanyahu government to the peace process with the Palestinians.
When we are prepared – in deeds, not words – to send ourselves and our children into harm’s way, as former Mossad chief Meir Dagan has done, as former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin has done, or as current IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has done, then perhaps we can tell them to be compliant or be silent. Until then, it is we who should keep our opinions to ourselves.